Our Member of the Month for June 2017 is Ryan Hörst of Hedgesville, West Virginia. Ryan is a highly decorated and active Lifetime Member of the Society, and very kindly sent us his handmade King In Yellow Journal to examine. Its ingenious flaps and hidden extras reminded us of the crime dossiers that Dennis Wheatley published in the 1930s, which have themselves inspired HPLHS prop document projects. And it made perfect sense when we learned how he got into Lovecraft in the first place:
"My foray into Lovecraft came more round-about than most other die-hard fans of his work, I would wager. While I read quite a bit growing up, my bookworm tendencies leaned towards the science-side of the fiction realm versus the horror for which Lovecraft was known. I was a nerd in the stereotypical sense – roleplaying (mostly Star Wars and D&D 3rd Ed.) and video games, comics, etc.
I remember in late 2002 while attending college being introduced to the new Wizards of the Coast d20 Modern table-top roleplaying game. I was utterly fascinated with their “Shadow Chasers” setting which involved a small band of “heroes” being aware that there are things beyond normal mortal comprehension, concealed by a supernatural veil, out there dwelling among the rest of humanity. That year, over Christmas break, my friends and I delved in to the setting and I was hooked. I had to know more about the influences behind this “shadow realm.”
Since I’m sure that the Mi-Go the Society has on retainer would drag the truth from me, I may as well confess that Robert E. Howard was where my initial research led me. As many know, Howard was a contemporary of Lovecraft, even contributing several of his own elements to the Cthulhu Mythos. Regardless, I soon thereafter discovered Lovecraft. As a roleplaying gamer, I love both of these authors for different reasons: Howard is excellent from a player’s perspective as most of his characters fight back against the darkness and often win, but Lovecraft is my preferred from a Dungeon Master’s perspective since normally it’s the antagonists that frequently consume the characters – either figuratively or literally.
As is often the case with people who run roleplaying games for their friends, creative writing is a side interest of mine. I spent a lot of my time while I was stationed with the Army in South Korea from 2007-2008 practicing my skills. Fast forward a few years. Christmas 2015, my mother-in-law sent me a most wonderful gift – an experience from The Mysterious Package Company titled The King in Yellow. Being the roleplaying nerd that I am, I decided to journal my experience “in character” as if this whole thing were real. I don’t think I can properly convey how much fun I had creating this journal (see picture). The most enjoyable part, though, was how it led me down a rabbit hole of research and connections to other authors. I took a few creative liberties and suggested some conspiracy theories of my own, but all highly plausible if one’s mind was being… influenced… by supernatural forces.
It was also at this time that I decided to join The Society as a life member in support of their mission. While I’ve never played a game of Cthulhu Lives!, I love that the whole point of The Society is “we thought it would be fun.” And having fun I am. I participated in my first “Secret Shoggoth” this past year and received a very nice thank you note from the recipient. I also have started my collection of DART performances to accompany my Mythoscope DVD copies of The Call of Cthulhu and The Whisperer in Darkness. I never thought I’d be a stamp collector, but I find myself trying to plot out how to acquire additional stamps for my membership passport. It’s addictive. My best friend’s wife grew up in Lovecraft’s home town of Providence, RI and her family has extended an open invitation for us to come visit. I think a pilgrimage is in order. I’m pretty sure there’s a stamp waiting for me there.
Lately though, my focus has been on adjusting to fatherhood. My wife, Ashley, and I added our first addition to our family, a little girl named Eve, on May the 7th. I’m excited since now I have someone to begin sharing my enjoyment of all things Lovecraft (see picture). Ashley just shakes her head at me, but I think she’s probably a Mi-Go spy."